Everyone, including myself, knew there would be countless headlines and news stories regarding the Republican National Convention this week. Regardless of one’s political beliefs, something controversial was bound to happen. Besides the plagiarism accusations and things of that nature, there was one story that really caught my eye.
A co-founder of the women-led grassroots organization dedicated to peace and human rights initiatives, known as “Code Pink,” entered the RNC in Cleveland holding a banner. Countless other individuals had signs and banners as well, making this women blend into the sea of excited people. Her banner read “No Racism, No Hate.” Almost immediately, people began ripping the banner out of her hands. While everyone has the right to their own beliefs and can take the risk of trying to remove the banner from her possession if they choose to do so, what happened next was what hurt me the most. Multiple other RNC attendees began covering her and her banner with American flags. What was wrong with this woman’s message? What is wrong with asking for more love in the world? Every other member of the convention could disagree with her message if they wanted to, but covering it with an American flag is inherently un-American. People were covering her form of free speech with a symbol of freedom. Not only is it ironic, but it is also just wrong.
Whether you are are a Republican or a Democrat, I think many, if not most, of us can agree that we respect our country’s flag. Using the flag to shame another person’s beliefs, or to literally try and cover them up is against everything our flag represents. Our Constitution gives us freedoms that many countries do not have, and our flag is a physical representation of them. So why use it in a manner that strips it of it’s true meaning?
Some may argue that the people covering the Code Pink member’s banner did not realize the deeper meaning behind what they were doing. But that’s the thing: they probably did not think about it at all, and that uncovers an even more serious issue altogether. People must come to respect each other's beliefs. Nowadays, people are so caught up in being “right.” Many would rather metaphorically cover their ears and yell their own beliefs just to make sure they don’t accidentally hear a valid point that may be coming from their so called “enemies.” You can blame political issues on whoever you want-- Congress, the president, it doesn’t matter. Suppressing other people’s beliefs and refusing to work together does nothing to further either party’s agenda; in fact, it does the complete opposite. Maybe more people would respect politicians if they didn’t act like toddlers that aren’t getting what they want when someone vocalizes a belief they don’t agree with entirely.
No party or politician is completely guilty or innocent of these things, and they all must work together to create a more open dialogue. But If our politicians can’t even come to respect and listen to each other despite their disagreements, I can assure you no presidential candidate or other political figure will be “making America great again.”